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February 15, 2013

News Briefs February 15, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,045

As of Feb. 12, 2013, at least 2,045 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

At least 1,706 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 118 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.

The AP count of total OEF casualties outside of Afghanistan is five more than the department’s tally.

The Defense Department also counts three military civilian deaths.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 18,230 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department. AP

McKeon says DOD’s fiscal woes were avoidable

A senior House Republican says there is plenty of blame to go around for the pending automatic budget cuts that have put the U.S. military on the brink of a readiness crisis.

Rep. Howard ìBuckî McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said Wednesday that neither Congress nor the Obama administration has clean hands.î He said the debt crisis forcing the cuts was decades in the making, yet both sides opted for the easy path when we should have explored the bravery of restraint.

The Defense Department faces a $46 billion cut between March and September. The automatic cuts, which Pentagon officials say would degrade the military’s ability to respond to a crisis, would be in addition to a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next decade. AP

Tuskegee Airman dies in Massachusetts

Luther McIlwain, a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen who broke military racial barriers during World War II, a retired New York City police officer, and a civil rights advocate in Massachusetts, has died. He was 91.

The Charles Dewhirst funeral home in Methuen, Mass., says McIlwain died Feb. 8.

He was born in Blaine, S.C., and moved with his family to Massachusetts at age 2. He graduated from a Methuen high school in 1939 and attended Allen University in Columbia, S.C., before enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1943. He was a 2nd lieutenant with the black 477th B-25 Bomber Group and was honorably discharged in 1947.

He was a police officer from 1946 until retirement in 1968, when he returned to Methuen.

He is survived by his wife. AP

U.K. gives Rolls-Royce $1.2 billion submarine contract

Britain’s Ministry of Defense has awarded an 800-million-pound ($1.2 billion) contract to Rolls-Royce Submarines to deliver and maintain the U.K.’s nuclear fleet.

The defense ministry said Feb. 13 that the 10-year contract will help sustain around 2,000 jobs around the U.K. and is expected to save around 200 million pounds ($310.9 million).

It said the deal will have Rolls-Royce deliver and maintain the nuclear power source for the Royal Navy’s Astute Class and future Successor deterrent submarines.

Minister for Defense Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne called the contract a ìbetter dealî for taxpayers, saying that Rolls-Royce’s work in producing submarine propulsion systems is ìan important national strategic capabilityî and is necessary to meet present and future U.K. defense needs. AP

India, France review pending defense deal

India and France Feb. 14 reviewed progress in a multibillion-dollar deal to build French fighter jets for the Indian air force and a separate agreement to construct the world’s biggest civilian nuclear power complex in western India.

Visiting French President Francois Hollande and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held talks in New Delhi that also focused on defense, regional security and cooperation in space exploration.

Last year, India agreed to an $11 billion deal to purchase 126 French combat aircraft. However, tough negotiations remain on costs, technology transfers and other details.

Indian officials say a final agreement on the fighter jets isn’t likely before July.

Under the terms of the agreement signed in January last year, France’s Dassault Aviation will deliver 18 fighter aircraft in fly away condition within three years. The remaining 108 fighters are to be built by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. through technology transfers.

Indian and French experts are still working out the pricing details, including the cost of on-board weaponry and royalties for producing the aircraft in India.

French nuclear giant Areva and state-owned Nuclear Power Corp. of India are also fine-tuning an agreement to build six nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in India’s Maharashtra state. When commissioned, the 9,900-megawatt complex will be the world’s largest nuclear power station.

Hollande and Singh also witnessed the signing of four cooperation agreements Feb. 14 on higher education, railways, cultural exchanges and space exploration. AP




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